Yesterday's Class or "Someone Get Me a Drink!"
Against my better judgment, I repeated a version of that exercise in class. We are on the “Parenting: Process and Choice” chapter after all. This time, I had the students brainstorm two columns: In one column, they were to list all the reasons to have children, and in the other, they were to list all the reasons to remain childfree. Then I separated them into two groups (by gender) and had them condense their lists. The men’s list? Hope I don’t offend the male readership, but, yikes. No wonder this country is going to hell in a big, giant, red-white-and-blue handbasket! If I was hoping for some improvement over years past, I was in for a big letdown. However, as Schietto Sister recently reminded me, I could use this activity not as an experiment in frustration for me, but in a “teachable moment” for them kind of way. As in, “Hey, everybody, tax breaks are not really the best reason to bring another human being into the world.” (One of the guys’ number one answers, by the way.)
The women’s “reasons for having children” list was topped with, “To make your marriage even happier.” So, I said, “Okay. Remember though, we learned from Chapter 12 that some research has shown that the majority of couples reported a large drop in levels of marital satisfaction after the first year of having a new baby at home.” And this is where inappropriate sister comes in. (Of course.) She is clearly suffering from what one of my colleagues calls the "egocentric fallacy." If it hasn't happened to her or someone she knows, it couldn't possibly be true. When I made the previous statement about children and their effect on marriage, her hand shoots up and she says, "I don't think that's true (as she starts almost EVERY comment.) I know plenty of couples who really, really love their kids, and it has really even strengthened their love and -" I cut her off - "Besides your own (I was dying to say
"clearly limited") personal experience, on what research or literature are you basing that statement?" She argues some statement I make (from our textbook, which she is obviously not reading) in every. Single. Class. On the chapter on attraction – we discussed the notion of “proximity breeds propinquity” and the old “absence makes the heart grow fonder” being something our grandmothers told us to make us feel better. Hand shoots up, “I really don’t see how that’s true. I mean, my boyfriend and I have a long distance relationship (that explains a lot to me), and I think about him ALL the time. I just love him so much and I can’t stop thinking about him and I can’t wait to see him and not have sex with him and blah, blah, blah.” It doesn’t matter what I say. And I would really like it, just once, if she could start a sentence with, “I disagree.” How about that? I mean, really. If you already KNOW everything I say is WRONG and “not true”, why are you taking my freaking class? Go teach at Vacation Bible School. I’m sure you’ll be a huge hit.
My colleagues remind me that this is "developmental" thing and it takes a while before a person becomes aware that other things can be generally true, even if it doesn't specifically apply to him or her. But come on! Inappropriate sister is a senior. Who is graduating in 2 months. Lord have mercy on her future boss (no pun intended!).